If you’re wondering how to create and use an online exam in a way that would protect it from cheating, you should consider using a testing tool with rich anti-cheating protection functionality, like HmmQuiz.
If, on the contrary, you don’t think that cheating during your tests might be a big issue, then chances are you are underestimating the risk.
When your testing tool doesn’t provide you with reasonable means making cheating much harder for quiz takers, some of them might take advantage of this situation, and tests results will be compromised and distorted.
Of course, even the best computer systems cannot give 100% anti-cheating guarantee yet, because, for example, the quiz taker who sits in front of the computer still might furtively use their smartphone to check correct answers on the Internet when you don’t look at them.
Nonetheless, you still can use the anti-cheating protection power of your online testing tool to lower the risk of cheating close to zero.
Anti-cheating protection during the test
In HmmQuiz you can use several different options which make cheating during tests almost impossible.
First of all, when you create an online test, you have to set some time limit for it. If the time limit is set right (it’s neither too small nor to big), your students simply won’t have the time to spend on anything but thinking about your questions and giving answers to them. With the right time limit they will not have the luxury of spending even a minute on trying to get the correct answer from their fellow students or from the Internet, even if they have such a possibility.
It is also important that the time limit in an online testing tool is automated, i.e. it finishes the test for all the test takers the moment the limit is reached. Thus, nobody can change anything in the test once the test is over, which is often possible between the moment you say “pencils down” and the moment you finish collecting all the papers when pens and paper are still used instead of modern online exam software.
Besides the time limit, you should also use HmmQuiz features called “Randomize question order” and “Shuffle answers”. With them it will be very unlikely that for any two test takers the positions of any questions within the test will match. The order of answers within each question will be also different. In this situation a quiz taker cannot simply ask other students what is the number of the correct answer for the question five, because the probability that anyone else has the same question at the same place with the same order of answers is extremely low.
Finally, as the last step of anti-cheating protection of your tests during the testing process, you can use the option called “Don’t show results to quiz takers until the test time in the schedule is over”. When this feature is enabled in the test settings, no one can see the correct answers to the questions until the test is finished for all the students in the class. It makes impossible for those who already finished the test to use the information about the correct answers to help those who are still taking it.
Anti-cheating protection when the test is over
When the test is over, it doesn’t mean that some test taker won’t try to “fix” their result if it turned out to be worse than they wanted. That’s why it’s very important to protect your test results not only during the test, but also afterward.
The first step is to set the strong password to protect your account in your testing tool where all the grades are stored and can possibly be changed manually. That’s why HmmQuiz won’t accept any weak password — it has to have at least 10 characters, and, even if it has 10 characters, it cannot be something simple like 1234567890. A strong password is almost impossible to guess, so it’s a solid defense against attempts to get unauthorized access to your account.
Even if you don’t use a software that doesn’t accept weak passwords, you should never use some short and simple set of characters as a key to your account.
You should also log out of your HmmQuiz account whenever you leave the room with your computer that you use to manage tests. Otherwise some test takers might start thinking about looking at the screen and maybe even about changing something in tests results.
If your exam software allows for making manual changes to tests results, i.e. supports manual grading, make sure that it always logs who and when makes any manual change. In HmmQuiz, each time an administrator or an instructor grades manually some question, or even leaves a comment under the question, the application always automatically shows the name of this person and the exact time when it was done. It makes impossible any manual change to the test result that could stay unnoticed.
Never trust any test result that you see on the test taker’s computer
The last but not least rule — you should never trust any test result that you see on the test taker’s computer. Your testing software must give you the possibility to see all test takers’ results on your own computer, in administrator’s or instructor’s interface, taking them directly from the application database, which ensures results authenticity.
Why is it so important? If your exam software works only in the test taker’s web browser, any computer-savvy test taker can easily manipulate what this browser shows as a test result, and there will be no way of checking if this is the grade the software really gave to this student.
Of course, when you look at their screen, you could ask your test takers to refresh the web page with test results in order to reset all manual changes that they might have made on this page, but in some applications it may cause the irreversible test result reset. Also, such a request would be pretty offensive to those who never intended to cheat.
So, the best solution is to use an application that allows you to see all the tests results on your computer directly from the server, like HmmQuiz.